|Title||Geography as destiny? Social and ecological resilience in rangelands of the American southwest|
|Publication Type||Conference Paper|
|Year of Publication||2015|
|Authors||Bestelmeyer BT, Skaggs R.K., Browning D.M., Williamson J, Wojan C|
|Conference Name||100th Annual Meeting, Ecological Society of America|
|Conference Location||Baltimore, MD|
|ARIS Log Number||319959|
Background/Question/Methods: Social-ecological systems perspectives focus on the reciprocal relationships between human and natural ecosystem elements and how these interactions determine human well-being, ecological state change, and land use change. In the arid southwestern US, which is dominated by ranching, a deeper understanding of social-ecological relationships is critical because land use change is accelerating. Productive cattle ranches, for example, can remain within family ownership for generations, whereas limited ecological potential, ecological degradation, and the “impermanence syndrome” can lead to repeated sales of other ranches. We asked whether we could predict expressions of social resilience (intrafamilial transfer of ownership vs. repeated ranch turnover to new owners) as a function of biophysical and geographic variables. In other words, are some ranches prone to failure? We studied an area dominated by federal public land (Bureau of Land Management grazing allotments) in southwestern New Mexico, USA. We examined the relationships of 1) frequency of ranch turnover and 2) intrafamilial transfer with variables related to 3) ecological resilience (soils, climate, departure from reference state) and 4) factors that may contribute to the perception of ranch impermanence (grazing allotment size and distance to the US-Mexico border and major cities). The dataset included 432 grazing allotments examined over a 70 year period.